Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Building our own SIPs house. Part 07

October 21, 2002.

East wall going up.

Oh this wall was a pain. Our house has a 3'x3' column on each side of the entry door. This is where we really have problems with the foundation not being level. The foundation crew framed the front columns about 2" high on one corner and a 2" toe in on the other column. The toe in we decided to face out with the bricks. But the high side has a problem. If you simply place the panel on the sill plate, it will tilt and you can not square it up. Solution: We put the panel in place, (tilted) and then used a laser level to scribe a line along the top edge of the panel. We then transferred the line to the bottom and trimmed the panel.

South Wall.

This wall has some of our tallest panels. Those center ridge panels are about 17' tall. Also at the ridge there are three 2x6's joined together to support the ridge beam. This was very tough to erect. A telescopic forklift should would have been nice for this.

On the south wall you can notice some of the cutouts for the laundry room plumbing. After the finish plumbing, these openings will be filled in with spray foam.

West Wall.

Almost finished with the SIPs shell on the first floor. That atrium wall is 20' high. We had to use the tractor to stand that wall up. The sunken floor in the atrium made it tough. Had to rig a level floor for the scissor lift. Once again, the rental of a telescoping fork lift would have simplified this job considerably.

Building our own SIPs house. Part 06

Oct. 10, 2002.

Finally after 10 straight days of rain, we are able to get started on the framing.

First wall panel UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You can't help but feel good when you raise the first panel on any house. Ours was no exception. I have to give special thanks to my late brother Donald, for helping so much in the construction, both physically and mentally. Don is the man in the suspenders, I'm wearing the white hat. Thanks for all your help, may you rest in peace.
Our system of SIPs are glued and nailed to the sill plate, then splined together with glue and nails. Where there is a corner, 2x6's are used to seal the end of each panel and then long screws are used to join one panel to the 2x6 of the other panel. EXTREMELY strong.

The rep from the panel manufacturer did not show up for our initial panel raising. They normally send a rep down for a day for an initial consulting. I found out later that the rep who was suppose to come down, had some medical issues and ended up in a hospital.

So our first few panels were definitely slow in rising. After that things begin to pick up steam.

North wall up! That is one stout wall. Between the 2x6 sill plate and the 2x6's in the corners, there is no give in that wall. A football player trying to tackle it would bounce off like a rubber ball.
The headers over the doors and windows are a minor problem.
They uses what they called Versa-lam. It is a sandwich of a laminated board and Styrofoam. The laminated board part is about 1 1/2" thick. The problem is the board is high on one side of the Styrofoam and low on the other side. Finally, we realized the solution was to take the Oreo cookie apart with a Sawzall, trim the Styrofoam if necessary, and them simply re glue the Versa-lam back together. Not sure if the Versa-lam was sent from the factory in this condition or if Hurricane Lily and all of the subsequent rain caused it to warp.

Building our own SIPs house. Part 05

Oct 1, 2002.

Hurricane Lily!

All work has stopped on the house. We are spending our time trying to batten down +$20K worth of Styrofoam SIPs panels. I think we must have spent about $300 at Harbor Freight Tools on rope, tarps, and stakes.

We live in Lafayette, LA and Hurricane Lily has chosen us for the bulls eye.
Luckily she dropped down to a Category 3 storm right before landfall, and probably hit us with Category 2 winds. We had a few panels damaged. This brings up the one downside on SIPs. With a damaged or missing panel, we have to call the manufacturer to deliver the replacements.
You just can't run to Home Depot or Lowes and pick up a new panel.


Building our own SIPs house. Part 04

Sept 10, 2004

The slab has been poured. The forms have been removed, and the post-tension engineers have pulled the embedded cables to the required tension.

Two tractor trailors have arrived and have been unloading the SIPs panels. As you can imagine, I have panels stacked everywhere on the lot. I had to rent a forklift to unload the panels, but I did know in advance so I was prepared. The panels are all numbered for each wall and panel number on that wall. The panel company, Premier Building Systems, took my blueprints and laid out the panel sequence on them.

We spent the next three weeks bolting down all the sill plates. I realized we made an error on the front door slab. We had to rent a concrete saw to cut down about 6" of concrete for the sill plate to be in the right spot.

Things are really going slow right now. I am a school. teacher, so we are only able to work on the house some in the afternoons and on the weekends.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Building our own SIPs house. Part 03

Aug 29,2002
Time to pour some concrete!

We decided to go with a post tension concrete slab. High strength steel cables are laid in the foundation. After the concrete is poured and set for a few days, they pull about 20,000psi tension on the cables. The advantages of this method is to GREATLY reduced the uneven settling of the slab. In theory, you could wash out about half the dirt under the slab, and the slab would still stay unbroken. They dig footers in a pattern in the foundation. Lay the cables down. And then pour the concrete. You can see the footers and cables in the photo above.

The concrete trucks are arriving and it is a sweet site. This is the moment when it really feels like it is finally happening. The finishing crew is actually a good crew. No complaints about them, just about that lazy son. There are one or two spots around the foundation where they should have put in a couple of more form boards. It is not a pretty site to see 1/3 of a yard of concrete oozing out from under a form where the land slopes away. Wood 2x's are a lot cheaper than concrete.In this photo you can see if you look close enough at the slight rise in the front porch section to the right. Also, well into the construction, we found that the atrium which is about seven inches lower than the rest of the foundation is very unlevel. I definitely would ask for a few references on the next concrete crew I hire. Also, this was the first foundation for me, so I was not savvy on potential problems to look out for.

I made a mistake. I had always planned to separate the hot and cold water lines before entry into the slab. This would allow for me to put a solar pre heater on the hot water line. These are very capable of raising the water temperature from 67 degrees to +90 degrees before the water enters the house. This would save a considerable amount on utility bills.

I completely forgot about this until much later.

Building our own SIPs house.

This is the ongoing story of the Ryland Homestead. After living in a trailer for 8 years, we finally had saved enough money to
build our house.

There were two primary conditions:

  • We had to do most of the work ourselves (carpentry,finish work, electrical).

  • The utility bills when finished had to be reasonable. NO $400/month electric bills!

After much research, we decided to build a SIP's house. SIP's stands for Structural Insulated Panels. There are some made from a
plywood/Styrofoam/plywood sandwich. Others are made from a plywood/Styrofoam/gypsum sandwich. There are also numerous ways of joining the panels
together. Some use 2x's, while others may use metal connectors or a plywood spline. We went with panels from Premier Building Systems.
These panels use OSB splines (Oriented Spline Board) to join panels together. The corners are the only places where the panels are connected with
2x's. For our house, we went with 6" wall panels and 8" roof panels.

My wife designed our house using one of those cheap 3D house programs. I took her designed and drew up the blueprints in Rhino 3D.
I'm a school teacher by trade, and Rhino is one of the programs I teach to my students.

In March, we had a pond dug on our property and used the dirt to build up the land where the house was going to be built. We then waited
several months for the ground to settle.